Crime fears over PCSO shake-up bid

Councillor Colin Campbell

Councillor Colin Campbell

First published in News Ilkley Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Parts of Wharfedale and Aireborough could be left with fewer Police Community Support Officers under a planned shake-up.

Leeds City Council is considering changing the way the 165 PCSOs it partially funds are allocated across the city in the coming year.

The proposal, which was considered by the executive board yesterday, favours a flexible new model that would see more PCSOs being sent to high-crime areas.

Otley and Yeadon’s three ward councillors, however, say the move could lead to less cover for more rural neighbourhoods – and so encourage criminals.

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: “PCSOs are a vital visual police presence to the community and provide reassurance that crime and anti-social behaviour is taken seriously.

“We know that criminals will target areas like Otley and Yeadon if police numbers are reduced because they know that police numbers are generally lower in low-crime areas.

“Reducing an already-low police presence by taking PCSOs away is just not acceptable.”

Coun Sandy Lay (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) added: “This approach by the Labour-run city council seems part of a wider approach by them to reduce crime prevention and divert resources away from our area.”

The role of Leeds’ PCSOs was considered in a review by the Safer and Stronger Communities scrutiny board that recommends moving away from the current five-officers-per-ward arrangement. But the council’s environments and neighbourhood department report, backing the review’s recommendations, also notes that they include maintaining a minimum of four PCSOs for all wards.

The document says the new model should “involve a dedicated flexible resource of PCSOs to be deployed against demand, with the remaining resource being allocated using an intelligence-based approach linked to combined crime and Neighbourhood Policing Team confidence data for wards across Leeds.

“However, this model should also apply a minimum baseline of four PCSOs within each ward.”

Leeds City Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, Councillor Peter Gruen (Lab, Crossgates & Whinmoor), said: “With funding levels from the city council and the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire agreed, the number of PCSOs in Leeds will remain at 165.

“How officers are deployed is a matter for the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire and Safer Leeds.

“We will be working closely with our police colleagues and partners to ensure that communities have a strong police presence and to respond flexibly to events.”

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